Year after year, Stefan Fournier endured the disappointment of being passed up at the NHL draft.
Each year the Halifax Mooseheads’ former co-captain, who bounced around to four different teams in his five-year junior career, would quickly translate that pain into motivation.
Persistence has paid off for the 21-year-old, who signed a three-year entry-level contract on Saturday with his hometown Montreal Canadiens after a career year as an overager in Halifax.
“I’m super excited, you know, having been passed up on the draft so many times,” said Fournier. “But I never gave up hope. I knew there was another route I would have to take to be at this point, to have my foot in the door; it’s so exciting.
“I grew up in Montreal idolizing their players and I know there’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m just happy to be here right now living in the present.”
A few different NHL teams showed interest in Fournier but in the end he decided on the Canadiens. After showing up at the club’s development camp last Monday, it didn’t take long before he made an impression on the Canadiens’ brass.
“I’m a firm believer that when you’re given an opportunity and you work your hardest, good things happen and I applied that philosophy in Halifax and I came here with an open mind with the belief that anything can happen. Now, I’m in the best possible situation I could hope for.”
Fournier admits he had a difficult time finding his place in the QMJHL, until his fifth and final season with the Mooseheads, which he calls the best year of his life.
In 66 regular season games, Fournier had a career best 35 goals, 37 assists and plus-17 rating to go along with 100 penalty minutes. He then went on to lead the Mooseheads with 16 goals in their President Cup clinching run.
Through the adversity he simply chose to charge on, simple advice he’d offer to an undrafted player with NHL aspirations.
“Just keep working, that’s what it comes down to, just don’t stop working. Sometimes you can’t listen to what people have to say.”
Time will tell where in the Canadiens’ system Fournier will end up next season. But he isn’t looking that far ahead yet.
“I’m just going to work as hard as I can and see where the cards fall,” he said.
Wherever his hockey career takes him, he says he’ll remain indebted to the Mooseheads.
“I think about (general manager) Cam Russell and (coach) Dom (Ducharme) and the whole coaching staff who inspired so much confidence in me on a hockey level and on a personal level. Going there, my first year on the team, and being named co-captain with Trey Lewis meant a lot also.”
Through it all he’s also been blessed with the unwavering support of his family.
“They’ve been everything to me,” he said. “They were a rock through it all, especially my mom.”